Category Archives: Rock ‘n’ Roll Stories
In early 1995, ex-Couch partner Pete Larson, studying in Germany for a year, was preparing to return to the United States. I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, talking to him on the phone about each others respective recordings for our upcoming split 7″, (Many Moods of Marlon Magas/ Mr. Velocity Hopkins), on Bulb. Pete commented how amazing Weasel’s drumming sounded on our Many Moods recordings. “That’s not Weasel, that’s Aaron.”, I replied. “THAT’S AARON?!?”, Pete responded. Teenager Aaron Dilloway had already displayed much musical prowess, playing guitar and singing with his band, Galen. Pete was about to learn about his secret talent as an intense, hot-shit drummer. Pete and I immediately decided that we would reunite COUCH with Aaron on drums. Couch was reborn and we embarked on our first and only tour of the West Coast. I began the tour a Michigan resident and ended the tour as a Chicago resident.
Pete, Aaron and I toured with Duotron, who were Odi M’khan (Jodie McCann) and Rikkeh Sutt’n (Ricky Sutton). There were five of us in a bare-bones van that broke down often, due to overheating. Five very strong personalities in the hot West Coast sun. No professional rock’n'roll loft, no padding, just bare metal and two bands worth of unprofessionally encased equipment. No air conditioning. No GPS. No Yelp. No cell phones. No digital cameras. No. These videos came from an old video camera, were transferred to VHS, recorded with a mini-DV camcorder, transferred to iMovie, shared to DV, and finally converted to MP4, for your portable viewing pleasure. We did it because we love you.
*Note: I had to remove the video of “Old Man” live at Aquarius Records, because the transfer looked like shit. There were digital glitches. I will attempt to repost soon.
Special thanks to Anthony Bedard, for organizing our San Francisco and Oakland shows.
COUCH – “New Friends 99″ live at the Malcolm Lowry Room, Vancouver, BC 1995
Also playing on the bill were Barbara Manning and Duotron.
COUCH – “(It’s) Too Late To Tango” live in Olympia, Washington 1995
Also on the bill: Leslie Q and Howardian.
COUCH – “Glass Brothers” live in Olympia, Washington 1995
Also on the bill: Leslie Q and Howardian.
COUCH – Live at Warehouse of Low Self-Esteem, San Francisco, California 1995. Various bits of “Glass Brothers”, “New Friends 99″, “Chinese Mechanic” and “Cryptologists” in progress. Rough edit, but it’s that roughness that captures the essence of Couch
Also on the bill: Caroliner Rainbow.
The other band was Miss High Heel. In 1994, while living in Ann Arbor, I heard To Live And Shave In L.A. 30-Minuten Mannercreme and was blown away. With titles like “We Demand the Right to Piss in Different Colors” and “No More Was Needed to Inflame My Balls”, how could you go wrong? Guest appearances from Harry Pussy’s Adris Hoyos and Bill Orcutt, plus Tigra from L’Trimm, put the thing over the top, although this was most assuredly a Tom Smith vehicle. I spoke excitedly to then-Caroline rep Michael Bull about TLASILA and he told me he had Tom Smith’s phone number in Miami. Nobody in our orbit was using e-mail yet, so I gave Tom a call. We hit it off and our energy bounced off each other, creating more energy. His music was fascinating and so was his telephone patter. He called everyone he spoke to “babe” and spoke triumphantly about his excellent fitness and sexual prowess (e.g. “My wife and I fuck constantly.”). I interviewed him for College Biker, a fanzine that I was getting off the ground and invited him to do a mid-Western tour with my horn band, The Many Moods of Marlon Magas, with TLASILA as headliners. I also invited him to do a release on Bulb (with Pete’s approval, mind you), the label that I was running at the time. Weasel Walter and Nandor Nevai came to Ann Arbor from Chicago, to play horns in the Many Moods. We were all very excited to meet Tom Smith, as he was a legendary enigma to all of us. We all had a great time on our mini-tour. Tom was always hilarious and a real jolt of energy to our scene. On the freeway to Detroit, we’d look in our rear-view mirror and see Tom joyously headbanging to his own music, which we could hear through our closed windows in the winter air. Nandor and Weasel ended up joining To Live and Shave In L.A. for those dates.
Fast-forward to Chicago, 1995: I had been living in Chicago for a few months, sharing a loft with soundman-about-town Elliot Dicks and then-Scissor Girl, Azita Youssefi. Tom, back in Miami, called and wondered if I wanted to work on a project. His marriage had just dissolved and he was looking for something to do. He wondered if he could come stay for a week or so to work on some stuff. I excitedly agreed. We decided that we were gonna be the new Sam and Dave. Weasel and Nandor were recruited early on and from there, it was Tom on the phone, doing all the recruiting…Azita, Jim O’Rourke, Bill Pisarri (R.I.P.), Chuck Falzone, Mike Green…possibly others joined, as Tom was constantly organizing sessions for overdubs. Many late-night mixing sessions occurred, as well as Tom producing other bands such as Scissor Girls, Duotron, Brian McMahon (of Electric Eels fame) and others. I grew accustomed to a steady stream of musicians and noise going into and coming out of Elliot’s studio in our loft. Tom was always mixing and recording, at all hours of the night. Eventually, everyone’s patience wore thin, especially that of my then-roommates. After a month or so, I returned home from work to find that Azita had given Tom the boot: “I kicked him out, cuz you didn’t have the balls to.” Tom couch-surfed for a bit longer in Chicago, mixed more Miss High Heel, traveled to Ann Arbor, did some recording with Aaron Dilloway and other luminaries, eventually yielding this cassette on Hanson, released in 1996.
In 2003, I joined To Live and Shave In L.A. onstage in Chicago. In 2009, I remixed one of their songs for an upcoming triple CD. It’s always a blast to work with Tom, so I look forward to reuniting the old band.
Negotiations for a Miss High Heel reunion for later this year are in progress.
Thanks to Weasel Walter for his original post on this subject, as well as digitizing this cassette and uploading.